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LAS CRUCES — For sure, you have to give the Aggie their dues.
After all, New Mexico State beat the Lobos three games out of four and used solid net work to grab a 3-1 win over New Mexico Tuesday night in the Pan American
But Lobo Coach Jeff Nelson also blamed another team for UNM’s loss to Aggies. He blamed the Lobos.
“We came out with no intensity, really flat,” said Nelson of the 25-22, 25-18, 22-25, 25-17 loss to the Aggies in front of a crowd of 1,669. “They’re just not bringing it. They (the Aggies) outworked us. I think they wanted it a lot more than we did.”
The first game was a crowd pleaser, a nail-biter that saw both teams push the scoreboard into the 20s. A few tiny shifts in momentum and an Aggie edge at the net allowed the NMSU to escape with a 25-22 win. The Aggies ended up with a slight edge in kills: 13 to 11 and a 4-0 edge in blocks.
That was pretty much the difference in the first game, which so often is pivotal in a volleyball match.
The second game was pure Aggie domination as NMSU pounded the Lobos 25-18, coasting to that win which sent UNM into the locker room down 2-0.
The Lobos seemed to come out of the break fired up. Nelson credited improved serving and that was true. But there also was a bit more fire in the Lobos and better production at the net.
The Lobos won that game 25-22, but even in that set there was a turning point in that game that fired up both Aggies and their crowd. An official’s reversal of a point changed the scoreboard from 16-19 in favor of UNM to 15-20 in favor of UNM. That shift ignited both the Aggies and their supporters and UNM had to cling on for the win as the Aggies used their crowd’s ire to spur a rally.
In the fourth and final game, the Aggies came off the bench after a tongue lashing from their coach and threw out a convincing 25-17 win — the most decisive game of the night.
The Aggies were told during that break to “watch No. 4” — UNM’s Ashley Rhoades, who was looking at an Aggie double block most of the night.
“I don’t feel we brought our game,” said Nelson. “It’s disappointing because we had worked hard to get on the right side of the rivalry. We have to get back to work.”
The loss dropped UNM to 9-6 on the season heading into Thursday’s 7 p.m. Mountain West Conference battle with UNLV set for Johnson Center. The Lobos also play host to San Diego State at noon Sunday.
“We’ll get back after it,” said Nelson. “We’ll get them prepared. It’s an emotional thing.”
The Lobos were led in kills by senior Ashley Rhoades with 17 off a .250 hitting percentage. UNM hit .158 for the four games.
NMSU got 20 kills from Meredith Hays and 10 from Kelsey Brennan.
UNM also got 10 kills from Kelly Williamson and 10 from Elsa Krieg. Mariah Agre had 34 assists and 13 digs. Allison Buck, who battled through a mild stomach ailment, had 16 digs and Miquella Lovato had 14 digs.
“I don’t like to call kids out, but right now (Williamson) needs a kick in the butt,” said Nelson. “Kelly has to step up.”
The Aggies got 45 assists from Jennah DeVries. A big advantage for NMSU came at the net with 16 total blocks to six for the Lobos. The Aggies hit .234 with 19 errors and 53 kills.
UNM had 28 errors and 51 kills.
--Richard Stevens, GoLobos.com